The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill Wednesday to penalize Venezuelan government officials found to violate human rights in that country’s crackdown on a protest movement, ratcheting up pressure on President Nicolás Maduro’s beleaguered government.
The bill calls for President Barack Obama to draw up a list of Venezuelan officials who are alleged to have violated human rights, freeze any assets they might have in the U.S., and bar them from entering the country by either withdrawing or denying visas.
A similar bill has been approved by a Senate committee, and is headed for a vote on the Senate floor in coming days.
Passage of the bill also raises pressure on the Obama administration, which has been wary of passing any kind of sanctions for fear it could create a backlash by allowing Mr. Maduro to mobilize supporters against the U.S. and distract from Venezuela’s growing homemade troubles. The administration also fears that the sanctions could jeopardize attempts at reaching a negotiated solution between the government and the opposition.
What negotiated solution? The o-called “negotiations” fell apart already.
Democrats led by Michigan Rep. John Conyers wrote a letter to President Barack Obama on Tuesday backing his administration. They also urged an exchange of ambassadors with Venezuela after a four-year hiatus.
Does this sound like a government willing to exchange ambassadors?
Venezuela alleged on Wednesday that the U.S. ambassador to Colombia has plotted to destabilize President Nicolas Maduro’s rule, adding to tensions between the two countries as the U.S. House approved a measure calling for sanctions on officials in the South American nation over human rights abuses.
A couple of days earlier, Mind your own business, Venezuela foreign minister tells Kerry.
In Caracas, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro welcomed the Democratic lawmakers’ initiative, saying he hopes “there is a bit of wisdom” in Washington. This wisdom from the guy who talks to a bird he thinks is Hugo CHavez.
Never mind, the Russian Foreign Minister says all problems should be solved on the constitutional basis, without threats of sanctions. In theory, they should; in reality . . .
Yleem D.S. Poblete posits that, in addition to the human rights violations,
For the sake of U.S. national security interests, the United States needs to act swiftly and resolutely to hold the Chavez-Maduro apparatus accountable.
The bill is now headed for a vote on the Senate floor.
Silvio Canto and I talked about this and other LatAm topics in last night’s podcast:
Elections in Colombia PLUS other US-Latin America stories of the week